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Henry Wood Booth Papers

Identifier: 1985-05

Collection Scope

SERIES I: Biographical (1836-1930) contains an interview of Henry Wood Booth, the Life of Henry Wood Booth, and business and personal materials. Henry’s diaries were included in this series as well as his views on his own religious beliefs.

SERIES II: Correspondence (1876-1930) contains general correspondence with members of the Booth family, including letters of sympathy after the deaths of both Henry and Clara.

SERIES III: Family History (1814-1943) includes correspondence to, from, and about members of the Booth and Gagnier families, as well as related families, in order to document the genealogy and family histories of these families. A few materials post-date the deaths of Henry and Clara and were added to this collection by Booth family members.

SERIES IV: Publications (1895-1924) consists of published articles and essays that Henry either wrote or edited.

SERIES V: Writings (1855-1922) consist primarily of religious writings and Booth’s views on various topics. For the most part, these writings were not published.

SERIES VI: Scrapbooks (1876-1922) contains clippings of articles on the various topics in which Booth was interested including temperance, religion, marriage, women’s rights, and politics, and span a forty-six year time period. Some articles pertain to Booth and Scripps family members. Scrapbook A is indexed.

SERIES VII: Books (1854, 1885, n.d.) contains four books owned by Booth, all of which contain marginal commentaries by him.

SERIES VIII: Realia series (1853-1869, n.d.) contains Booth family memorabilia.


  • 1814 - 1969
  • Majority of material found within 1882 - 1930



Access to this collection is unrestricted except for Boxes 17 and 18 due to fragility of the materials. Copies of materials in Box 17 can be found in Box 1 and 3.


Permission to use collection materials must be requested in writing.


Henry Wood Booth was born January 21, 1837, in the village of Cranbrook, Kent, England, the son of coppersmith Henry Gough Booth and Harriet Wood. At age five, his mother died and his father emigrated to America with his three children. The family lived for periods in Cincinnati, Ohio; Toronto, Ontario; and Buffalo, New York before returning to England where Henry Sr. set up a metalworking shop in 1850. A year later they again set sail for America and took up residence in St. Catharines, Ontario.

At age seventeen, Henry Wood Booth met Clara Louise Irene Gagnier, the eldest daughter of Maria Martel and Charles Gagnier, also of St. Catharines. They were married 18 May 1858 at Trinity Church in Toronto. Henry and Clara had ten children: Charles Henry, Alice Martel, Grace, George Gough, Edmund Wood, Theodora Marianne, Adelaide Clara Louise, Ralph Harman, Roland Bucer, and Bertha Beatrice.

By the age of twenty, Henry Wood Booth was active in temperance work, publishing in several news and temperance papers with which he was involved. At the same time, he also worked for winegrowers in the state of New York, who adopted his suggestion of distilling cheap brandy from wine furnished with extra sugar. In 1873, Henry became interested in the Reformed Episcopal Church movement. In 1874, he began publishing the Sunday Times in Toronto. The paper failed to gain acceptance and subsequently ceased publication.

Henry Wood Booth was also an inventor and received a United States patents commission during the years 1875-1887. His inventions included Ka-O-Ka, a coffee substitute, and a ventilated coffin. Booth was a prolific writer and speaker. His articles were published in the Detroit News as a religious page called "Peregrinations of a Church Tramp" and he spoke at many Detroit area churches. Out of this experience came his unsuccessful attempt to revive the practice of family prayer through the "Bell, Book and Candle Society."

Henry Wood Booth became an American citizen in September 1911 and spent his last fourteen years living in “The Cottage” at Cranbrook, the estate of his son George in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. There he built rock gardens and paths, studied, and continued writing. Henry Wood Booth died March 17, 1925; his wife Clara Gagnier Booth died April 1, 1930.


17.3 Linear Feet ( 7 MS, 11 OS)

Language of Materials



Henry Wood Booth, husband to Clara Louise Irene Gagnier, and father of Cranbrook Founder George Gough Booth, was an English emigrant. Active in temperance work, he was also an inventor, writer, and speaker at many Detroit area churches. Published in several news and temperance papers, including a religious page in the Detroit News, for a short period he even operated the Sunday Times in Toronto. As an inventor, Henry Wood Booth received a United States patents commission during the years 1875-1887. His inventions included Ka-O-Ka, a coffee substitute, and a ventilated coffin. Henry Wood Booth became an American citizen in September 1911 and spent his last fourteen years living in “The Cottage” at Cranbrook, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The Henry Wood Booth Papers document the early history of the Booth family and of Cranbrook, as well as his wife’s family history. In addition, a large bulk of the material pertains to Booth’s various professional, spiritual, and intellectual pursuits. Of particular interest are his autobiography, Life of Henry Wood Booth, and his Annals of Cranbrook, both of which contain a variety of photographs, news articles, and publications in addition to Booth's handwritten manuscript.


The Henry Wood Booth Papers have been subdivided into eight series: Biographical (box 1), Correspondence (box 2), Family History (boxes 2-3), Publications (box 3), Writings (boxes 3-9), Scrapbooks (boxes 10-14), Books (box 15), and Realia (box 16).


Gift of Henry Scripps Booth, Edmund Pratt, Henry Pratt, and other Booth family members.

Related Materials

George Gough Booth Papers (1981-01)

Processing History

Processed by Steven Weiss, 1995. Revised by Leslie S. Edwards, Sep 2015.

Guide to the Henry Wood Booth Papers
Steven Weiss
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Resource record created by Laura MacNewman.

Revision Statements

  • 2015: Revised by Leslie S. Edwards

Repository Details

Part of the Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research Repository